Fit Picky Full Bust Alterations: Buy it or Leave it – Coats Edition

Today is the coats edition of Buy it or Leave it!

I figure a lot of us don’t want to buy an expensive coat only to have to take it in to an alterations shop and spend more money to have it adjusted. So, I went to Target so you can see the end of the line coats they have left on the shelves.

First off, I tried on a light pink adorable little coat in a size Small. The sleeve fit perfectly, and since I can sew, I’m tempted to buy the coat on super sale so I can copy the sleeve. The rest of the coat just doesn’t fit. The bust is tight and the waist is too high for my bigger chest. Other than that, cute coat! But I left it behind. I really do love the tapered in waist and the flared skirt of the coat. Excellent design if I didn’t have priorities for fit.

The problem with this pink coat is that the waist fits but the bust just doesn’t. The buttons don’t fit under the bust (they are too high) and I can already see where I’d do alterations. Mostly, I’d do a full bust alteration so that the waist line would hit me at my waist line, but it’s a decent fit otherwise. Of course, I left it behind. But do you notice how the sleeves fit? That’s glorious! They’re pretty perfect. Even on my forward shoulders and forward neck.

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The next coat was also a size Small, but it didn’t have the waist line definition like the cute pink one ha, and it squished my boobs a bit too much! So, I left it. But it was so close. It was close because I used to have a coat like this one that fit worse. This one fit closer than my old coat, but it would’ve taken a lot of work to get the bust to fit right.

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Next is a close fit. If you can see how the sleeve pulls in the photo on the left, you can see why I left it behind. It fits, but not just quite. Sleeves matter to me! I might not alter sleeves, but a good sleeve matters to me. You can see below that this sleeve is pulling. There is dragging, and while it isn’t a totally bad fit,  it isn’t the best fit, either. Just for reference, this is a Size Medium.

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This jacket seemed fun to try on so I went for it. It was marked a Large,which just goes to show that you should try everything on–EVERYTHING!

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And for reference, this is the coat I wear in the dead of winter when it’s just too cold and you need multi layers. I bought this coat years ago, and at this point, it’s a size too big, but it fits lots of layers so that’s good!

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What kind of coats do you gravitate towards? Are there coats you don’t even bother trying on? Why not?

Fit Picky Full Bust Alterations: Buy it or Leave it?

There are times when you really should just pass on a garment, leave it at the store and keep looking for a better fit. I know I’m picky, but shouldn’t we all be a little picky sometimes? There are times when no amount of alterations will be able to correct the fit without creating more issues on a garment. Today I’m going to show you some garments I’ve left behind at shops because either I couldn’t see a fix or the alteration was going to be more trouble than it was worth, or other reasons in between. I’ll also be giving you some more things to look out for so you save your money on the garments that you can alter. This is not the be all and end all of what to do, but hopefully it’ll be a good beginning.

First of all, if you want a garment altered, you’ll need extra fabric to pinch out and use to make it fit you how you like. This first dress had a chiffon top and a stretch skirt. Very cute. I picked out one size bigger than would fit me and saw that the underarms were too low. Pinching them out showed that I could take this dress in at the side seams and mostly likely achieve a better fit, while closing up the armholes. I did leave it behind because the bodice was lined and I didn’t feel like taking in a lining, too. But it’s completely doable!

The only thing about me in this dress, and another reason why I wouldn’t alter it too much (or bother at all), is the front zippers. I love metal zippers on a dress like this, but as you start to take excess skirt material away, you might run into the zippers. Before you buy a dress or top with zippers, pinch out how much you need to pinch out and look to see how the zippers do with the alteration.

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This next dress has the high/low hem which I know is a thing, but I’m not into it for myself. The dress was a comfortable knit dress but I left it behind. Why? The second picture shows you something that, as a busty woman, you’re very familiar with- the waist tie is right under the bust and it’s not meant to be that high. My bust is pulling the front up which is why I get the tie so high. It’s a high/low already, so it won’t be that noticeable, but if I know I can make the same look starting from scratch and lengthen the front torso, then I, for the most part, will.

The striped dress on the far right shows what the front length was supposed to look like on the high/low dress. I was going to try to prove my point with the stripy dress on the right, but it actually fit! So, now I show you for a frame of reference where the waist is supposed to be on the high/low dress. Really, though, having the waist seam in the front look more empire isn’t the end of the world, but I still left it.

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An obvious reason to leave a garment behind is if it’s too tight. Or even if it fits too well. Case in point is this really cute sweater dress I tried on. It had these really cool belty/buckles at the hip, but the neckline was a bit lower than I’m used to. It’s not awful, but there’s no way I’d be able to alter it. If I wanted to take in the sides to close up the neck, it wouldn’t fit anymore. As hard as it was to do, I left this one behind. If I had found a size or two bigger, I would have checked that the sleeves fit right and then pinched out what I wanted to take out to see if it closed up the neckline and what it did to the placement of the belt buckles–though you could very carefully pick out the stitches of the buckles, do your alterations and sew the buckles back on. Still more work than I would want to do with this dress.

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I took a look at some evening dresses since it’s the season, and I found a really cute red bodice with black overlay dress you can see below. Can you see how beautifully the armholes fit! But I left it behind because the seam join of the bodice and the skirt, although meant to be askew, crossed me at the bust and I don’t like that look. Other than that, it’s a cute dress!

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Here’s another case of cute dress, but the bodice was too short. Now, with this dress below, I might reconsider and go back and get it because it isn’t as noticeable as the red one above. I put my hand at my underbust. You can see it’s about 1.5″ or so lower than the seam. You could lengthen the skirt, but adding to the length of the bodice would probably mean needing to make an entirely new bodice.

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I know it’s cold around parts of the world, but I had to try on a skater dress. Again, a full bust will pull up the front of the dress and, again, while sometimes it doesn’t bother me, sometimes, like this time, it did. It also bothered me that the skirt made me look like I was standing with my pelvis tilted forward- I swear I’m standing up straight. I wasn’t sad to leave this one behind. I would have to lengthen the bodice by means of cutting it off of the skirt, shortening the back of the bodice and then adding a midriff to even out the whole thing.

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I hope this has helped even a little bit, though you’ve probably done exactly what I’ve done here–stood in front of the mirror and wondered, “How could this be fixed?”

In general, dresses with a bodice and a skirt attached at the waist can be a good thing (you can add a midriff) or a bad thing (the bust length could be so short that there’s no good fix for it). Dresses with no waist seam could fit better just because you don’t notice that waist seam hitting you at the underbust. I wouldn’t buy anything in my size if I wanted to alter it. One size bigger than your normal size should do the trick, depending on the garment and how much shaping you’d like to add. If you want more shaping, you’ll need to have more fabric to shape.

What other signs tell you not to buy a garment? What amazing garment have you walked away from because it didn’t fit and you couldn’t alter it? Have you ever taken a picture and had the dress made to your measurements? Or do you overlook fit for a really great dress or top?

Fit Picky Full Bust Alterations: Wearing Ease

I talk a lot about fitting garments but in sewing there is a thing called over-fitting. This is where you obsess over every single wrinkle and drag line to the point where you take out all wearing ease.

What is wearing ease? It’s the amount of fabric circumference that allows you to move during wear.

To understand this from within your own closet, take your bust, waist or hip measurement and then compare that number to a garment you own. If the garment is a knit, you might have what’s called “negative ease” to account for the natural stretching, but if it’s a non-stretchy fabric you need ease.

There’s a fine line between a garment with a close fit and one that is just too tight. I’m not judging someone for wearing tight clothes but if a garment is too tight, you compromise the garment itself. The stitching can pop and you can end up tearing it. Even, say, a dress made out of a stretch woven can be too tight. Again, it’s a fine line, and I’m sure you’re aware of this line when shopping for yourself.

Below are two dresses in my early sewing that I over fitted. The one on the right has absolutely no ease in the hip area. It was unwearable. I couldn’t sit down or do much more than stand, lean or maybe go for a leisure walk. The dress on the right was over fitted in the bodice. In an attempt to fit the shoulders, I took out all ease and I couldn’t lift my arm beyond where my arm is in this picture.

After a couple more tries in the sewing department, I started noticing that adding in ease could often help, and not only with some of the drag lines that I was trying to get rid of. Interestingly, a little bit more ease (not a ton) also looked better on me. I didn’t look so awkward.

I also found that if I got a close fit along my back, it gave a nice silhouette–not over fitted, but tapered in. Like with last month’s post I did on fitting a shapeless button down shirt, taking in the back helped skim curves in the back and in the front and provide gentle shaping while not affecting the ease.


Below is a recent make. I had very little time to put it together as I wanted to wear it at an event. In light of my time constraint, I didn’t have much time to fit–or rather, over fit! I did my usual full bust adjustment but then left any ease intact. You can see the ease along the bodice, especially along the back. In turn, it’s a very comfortable dress to wear.

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I know we all want well fitting garments. If you’re buying RTW, try it on and see if the fit is improved by taking in the back. If the shoulder seams are falling off your shoulders, take a little tuck and see if that improves the fit. If things start to look strained, pick another top or dress to take in to alter. You want to have enough fabric to take it in and still have wearing ease.

I hope this has been helpful. What’s your thought on ease? Do you choose only stretch garments? Do you find you can get good fit in a particular type of garment?

Fit Picky Full Bust Alterations: Quick Waist Fix

Are you wondering where Best Breast Forward is today? We’re playing musical columns this week. Look for Mia’s post tomorrow!

Apologies for my Hourglassy absence. I have missed writing these Fit Picky posts.

Today, I bring you a quick waist fix on a button-down shirt. The idea came from a reader who wrote in to ask about altering a boxy button-down with underbust darts or tucks.

One thing I’ll tell you about fitting, is that you want to alter the back and then the front– especially when you’re dealing with Ready-to-Wear (RTW). If you have a larger bust, your front is wider than your back, in which case, you could take out some of the back fullness and create easy shaping.

I’m going to show you how I added shirring to the back waist to create shaping in the front. I’ll say it again, this is gentle shaping. There’s only so much magic you can do with RTW.  Here’s a great shirring tutorial by Made by Rae that will help you navigate shirring your button-down.

What you’ll need

I started with a men’s shirt, size Medium, from my husband’s closet. The thing to remember about a boxy shirt is that it’s going to be hard to create a fitted shirt. The opening for the sleeve will be too low (most of the time) so you want to gently create shaping. Anything too dramatic and it’ll start looking off.

You’ll also need elastic thread, regular thread, an empty bobbin and an erasable marker or chalk.

I’ve stacked the before (top) pics with the after (bottom) pictures so you can see the difference. The before doesn’t bother me that much until I see the back and the side. I was tempted to do bust darts on those drag lines you can see in the before side pic, but the back needed to be altered first.

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The back shirring got rid of a lot of the fullness in the front as well as in the back. You can really do as many rows of shirring as you want. I’m debating whether I want to go back and add more rows above the top row I started with. [Read more…]